Saturday, February 17, 2018

Linda Haldeman

Linda Haldeman (b. Washington, D.C., 14 July 1935; d. Indiana, Pennsylvania, 14 January 1988)

Linda Wilson was the only daughter of John Barnett Wilson (1900-1974), an attorney, and his wife Mildred Louise Beckwith (1901-1977), who were married in Washington, D.C. on 2 June 1923.  They also had one son.

Linda studied at Loyola University in New Orleans (A.B., 1958). She married Harry Haldeman (1933-1994) on 8 August 1959.  They had two sons and two daughters. For 1959-60, Linda was an instructor in English at Columbia College of Art in Columbus, Ohio. Soon after this, Harry Haldeman became professor of English at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and the family settled there.

Linda Haldeman suffered from Bell's Palsy all her life, and was diagnosed with cancer around 1975, for which disease she had some twelve operations before her death.  Despite her illness, she published three novels and some short stories. Her first novel was Star of the Sea (Doubleday, January 1978), a Catholic miracle story set in Mississippi in 1950, in which a young girl at convent school converses with a statue of the Holy Mother and is party to some miracles.  This was followed in November by The Lastborn of Elvinwood (New York: Doubleday, 1978; London: Souvenir Press, 1981), set in Surrey, in which Mompen, the lastborn of the firstborn and a clumsy fairy, must be swapped for a willing human bride in order to save the dwindling fairy race.

Her third and final novel was a paperback original, Esbae: A Winter's Tale (New York: Avon, December 1981). Set on a college campus, it tells of a jock who has summoned Asmodeus to keep him from flunking out and a scatterbrained classmate Sophie, who Asmodeus wants to be sacrificed. But helping Sophie is Esbae, a "spiritous creature from the Empyrean" who has been sent to Earth to redeem itself.
The Avon Paperbacks
After the three novels, Haldeman published a novella and two short stories in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, and a fantasy story in Magic in Ithkar (1985), a shared world anthology edited by Andre Norton and Robert Adams.  She also contributed to Opera News and Opera Journal (Haldeman's passion for opera is evidenced in Esbae).

In a note to Contemporary Authors c. 1980 Haldeman wrote:
"I am primarily a teller of tales. This is a profession that has fallen into disfavor with many critics. It is felt, it seems, that there are two kinds of fiction written, the good story and the literary novel, and it is assumed for some reason that they are mutually exclusive. It is my intention to remarry these two ideas of the novel after a too-long forced separation. An entertaining and absorbing plot ought not to exclude good writing style and sympathetic, well-developed characters."
Fellow-writer Nancy Springer wrote a short memoir of Haldeman for Locus (April 1988), noting: "she was a strong, sometimes angry, sometimes outrageously cynical woman, with a sly sense of humor and a questing mind. In appearance she was a pixie, an innocent. Appearances were deceptive. She knew the score, and she knew how to laugh it to shame. . . . She 'cast a cold eye on life, on death,' and kept a warm heart in defiance of both. She was quite possibly the most courageous person I have ever known." 

1 comment:

  1. A favorite of mine. I cited Esbae in a recent paper, calling it an unjustly obscure novel.